The gunman came out of nowhere and just started shooting
They were on the dance floor, playing pool or simply chatting with friends when a fun college night at a popular Thousand Oaks, California, bar abruptly ended.
From across the bar, Holden Harrah saw a bearded man walk in and shoot a woman who was behind the counter.
“I see that girl every single time I’m there,” he told CNN, fighting back tears. “I don’t know her name, but (she) is someone I make small contact with and I say hi every time.
“I don’t know if she’s alive.”
A gunman opened fire Wednesday night at Borderline Bar & Grill, authorities said, killing at least 12 people and injuring others in a city described by its mayor as “one of the safest” in the country.
“This guy just came out of nowhere and came out with a gun and shot people in Thousand Oaks, California,” Harrah said. “And that’s what’s really blowing my mind, it’s a really safe area.
“I’m just in shock with what I saw with my own two eyes.”
‘A tall, dark figure’
Taylor Von Molt, 21, was dancing when she heard what sounded like a balloon popping.
“And I was confused because we didn’t have any balloons at the time,” she told CNN. “And then I heard it a couple more times, and I turned around and I saw him.
“He had a black mask — what looked like a bandana on the bottom of his face — sunglasses, black hoodie, dark jeans,” she said. “And he’s kind of bigger. But kind of more burly. Scary.”
Von Molt ran as gunshots rang out and tripped on her way to the exit. Others trying to escape kept running over her, but she was finally able to get up and sought refuge in a nearby apartment.
When Matt Wennestrom first heard the gunshots, he turned and saw “a tall, dark figure with a handgun opening fire on one of my closest friends.”
“We saw him and we dropped down immediately, the group of five to six guys that I was with, and we covered the girls,” Wennestrom said.
The group jumped up during a pause in the gunfire and began throwing stools through the bar’s windows, he said.
As they were jumping out the window, he said, they heard the next round of gunshots.
Gunman ‘was shooting everything’
After helping his son take cover, Tim Dominguez saw how the horrific scene unfolded.
“I looked up and he was moving to the right. He shot the doorman, bouncer … just a young man,” Dominguez told CNN affiliate KABC, choking up. “Then he shot the cashier, just a young girl.”
He said the gunman said nothing at all.
Minutes after the first shots were fired, people jumped out of windows, hid in bathrooms and “dog-piled on top of each other.”
A student named Summer, who was also inside the bar, said the gunman “was shooting everything, from the speakers to anything.”
California Lutheran University student Teylor Whittler, 19, told KABC that people were trying to hide in silence when men ran toward a back door of the bar and warned them the gunman was coming.
As she escaped through the door, she heard a second round of shots.
“I think everyone was in so much of a shock that it was sheer panic,” Whittler said.